“The Solutions that we seek today are definitely not in the domain of engineering unless you’re still looking for Aliens!”
– Vineet Raj Kapoor
If you’re still studying Engineering considering it as a path for innovation you’re barking up the wrong tree. If everybody you know is doing that you’re in the wrong country. And if you think that is the way to show your prowess, you’re in the wrong century! If as a Business Manager your background reflects a strong understanding of technical information and you hope to find good answers you’re stretching you luck too far. Innovation requires a strong understanding of everything under the sun – sports, music, psychology, neuroscience, geography, anthropology, literature, art, chess and of course engineering. So people who rely on their technical prowess and the ones who can’t get good answers and then they surround themselves with a lot of engineers and then crack the puzzle stepwise and still can’t find the answers. They watch their company go down the drain and do nothing about it since the only way to rescue the company would mean firing themselves from the company, and I am yet to see that happen yet. So now you know why the microsofts of the world suffer as the only way they can see is through the windows and getting the sun in for them is opening their windows. Employ an artist and tell him that you want the maximum sun in your room and he’ll tear down the wall – well that’s what innovation is about. Artists have a way of keeping themselves free from rules and yes they are tough to handle. But the country needs a lot of artistic and design knowledge to cross the next level since that involves innovation.
I’ve often been in a Panel Discussion or Seminar where India lack of Innovation invariably come up for discussion. Mostly that is treated as a trait and sidelined and people focus on more left-brained and compliant activities including backend work. Right-brained thinking has largely been accepted as the fiefdom of the west. That’s pure statement of the problem and wonderfully we see experts tout that as if they were stating a solution. Every time the issue of the large masses to be employed comes up and the entire buildup for innovation goes down the drain.
Many times people compare India to China saying that they are a worker oriented country and hence able to come up with high growth rates. I used to believe that too! Totally wrong! One look at Innovations and Inventions in Wikipedia and you come to know that roughly half of the inventions the world has seen have come from China! Woooow! And people pitch England and America as the powerhouse of the world. Well they took our breath away for a century when they automated everything and that was the time that the engineer took the front seat. However, a century is a long time and he almost had us believe that he owned the bus!
Also in the discussions and meets, the focus largely remains on Big corporations and the SMBs are ignored. Even in policy making largely the requirements of the SMBs do not get heard. The long term vision gets missed in sight of short term gains since Big Corporations promise instant jobs. However, they have the where withal to move away whenever it suits them. The SMBs are generally local and need some handholding (not arm twisting) so that they get on their feet quickly. Also, they would recruit more local people and they usually have new and innovative products which can lead to quick growth and IP creation and hence can look towards high margins and contribute more to the state exchequer. The only need is to be patient, since innovative product take time and there are many failures before the success. More than money SMBs need access to tools which are costly and out of their reach so that they can innovate. They need state support not in financial grants but in the form of purchase orders. Well, let’s get back to the original discussion :
Time has again come for us to pump creative thinking into our school and college curriculums unless we want the country full of dull people who can’t innovate. Time has come to ask students to throw their school scores out of the window and show us their portfolios. Show us the work you did on your own! What did you create, discover or innovate! How did you solve a complex problem through simplification. Could you use your knowledge of playing sport and change the way a company works. Is your company director the referee or the captain of the company? Does his role definition also give him the same powers? Did you make the company employees sportsmanship? Do you see slow motion replays of your competitor to plot a move? Do you create new moves on the drawing table or is your company playing a match without a time limit? Do you know where you’re goal lies? More than that are you aware of the competition’s goal?
We have to change the way we approach university education. Like in IT sector, we saw that an unregulated growth in IT gave us more in 10 years that 50 years of regulation couldn’t. Similarly, do we have the heart for unregulated education? Let it be between the student and the college. Are we courageous enough?